Oh, those crazy Americans! If they’re not wielding guns, they’re making up stories about them, amiright?!
Four U.S. Olympic swimmers, headed by Ryan Lochte, dove head first into an international scandal when they allegedly lied about an attempted armed robbery in order to cover up their vandalism of a gas station.
Lochte and his fellow swimmers Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and Jimmy Feigen, were heading back to the Olympic Village in the wee hours of Saturday morning when they stopped at a Shell station in Barra da Tijuca. Police said after the athletes had entered a restroom and damaged the toilet, smashed some mirrors and caused other damage including urinating on a door, the station’s employees barred them from leaving the premises. Alerted by the employees, the gas station’s security officer then pulled his gun on the swimmers, who allegedly turned over money to pay for the damages.
Lochte posted an apology via Instagram:
I want to apologize for my behavior last weekend — for not being more careful and candid in how I described the events of that early morning and for my role in taking the focus away from the many athletes fulfilling their dreams of participating in the Olympics. I waited to share these thoughts until it was confirmed that the legal situation was addressed and it was clear that my teammates would be arriving home safely.
It’s traumatic to be out late with your friends in a foreign country — with a language barrier — and have a stranger point a gun at you and demand money to let you leave, but regardless of the behavior of anyone else that night, I should have been much more responsible in how I handled myself and for that am sorry to my teammates, my fans, my fellow competitors, my sponsors, and the hosts of this great event. I am very proud to represent my country in Olympic competition and this was a situation that could and should have been avoided. I accept responsibility for my role in this happening and have learned some valuable lessons.
However, during their show this morning, Today correspondent Keir Simmons went to the gas station where Lochte, Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and Jimmy Feigen allegedly trashed the restroom and said the bathroom was in good condition, which means either the damages were repaired (with obviously used items) before the reporter arrived or that there was never any damage.
While Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger were allowed to return to the United States, Feigen, who was pulled off a U.S.-bound flight by authorities, has agreed to donate 35,000 Reals (about $11,000) to Reaction Institute, a Brazilian charity, in order to have his passport returned and be granted permission to leave the country.
But the most recent reports on the story claim Lochte is standing behind his claim that he and the other swimmers were held at gunpoint and robbed, an account supported by surveillance video from the gas station in Rio de Janeiro, Lochte’s attorney Jeffrey M. Ostrow said.
“That part of the story will never change,” Ostrow said in a phone interview. “We stand behind that.”
Ostrow said Lochte’s account of the incident is and always has been correct – armed men demanding their money at gunpoint.
“(Lochte) knows that he was held up at gunpoint and forced to give up money and that he was robbed. That’s being overshadowed, and it’s unfortunate because people are focusing on other things or relying on what the Brazilians are saying as opposed to taking the time to really analyze that you can kind of see it both ways.” Ostrow said.
Can’t get enough crazy antics from Lochte? Esquire Network is running a “What Would Ryan Lochte Do?” marathon tonight.